Avalanche Control

Submitted by Tim on December 5th, 2009 at 8:15 PM


Michigan 67, Arkansas Pine Bluff 53
Michigan 4-3 (0-0 Big Ten)

Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims must be secret identities of each other or something, because it seems impossible for them to show up at the same time. Today, they took turns with Sims dominating the first half and Harris taking over after the break. Manny may look like the star, since the Wolverines only outscored the Golden Lions in the second frame, but both played a big role.

The defense played a big part as well, sparking much of the second-half offense, and limiting Pine Bluff to just 21 second-half points. "Our offense, I feel, kinda came out of our defense. We got some turnovers, and we got them started. We've just gotta keep pressing, and eventually they're gonna wear down," said Stu Douglass.

The shooting is still awful, with the team making only a quarter of their threes, and finishing with an overall field goal percentage of 42.9%. The reason had very little to do with the shots that were available, either. Running the offense, there were a number of open looks, but the shooters couldn't knock them down. Last year showed that these guys can shoot the ball, and hopefully the slump can end sooner rather than later.


  • The rotation is still really thin. I would have liked to see more than 7 guys play double-digit minutes (Douglass and Gibson were the only bench players to earn the distinction). A lack of depth will really hurt this team once Big Ten play rolls around.
  • Anthony Wright was... Anthony Wright-y. He was 0-5 from the floor, and looked poor on defense. This time, I guess he had a pretty good excuse, as he missed practice this week for the birth of his daughter.
  • LLP was in foul trouble for a while, but I thought he played really well when he was in. A couple big shots started the game, and he looked really active on defense.
  • The team still looked like they were suffering through mental lapses and a lack of focus at times. Fortunately, Arkansas Pine Bluff is not a team that's going to make them pay too badly.
  • Stu Douglass had some pretty good passes, including a superfluous behind-the-back to Manny on a fastbreak. It was encouraging to see him capable of distributing the ball.
  • Shooters passed on a number of open looks. It's not too serious an issue, but I hope it's not a lack of confidence. The only way to break their shooting slump is to keep shooting.

Postgame Quotes

"CJ and David were two great leaders, and for us to fulfill what they did for the team, we have to do collectively." Deshawn Sims, on filling the leadership void on the team.

"Coach said we would play from the inside out today, and we were able to execute the gameplan, and it worked for us in the first half." Deshawn Sims.

"The urgency has to be different from here on out. We can't control the wins and losses, but we definitely control the effort and urgency." Deshawn Sims.

"We were a lot more focused in the second half, especially defensively." Stu Douglass

"Just keep shooting. I feel like I've been talking about it enough, and it's getting a little old. I'm a little upset with myself - I'm very upset with myself." Stu Douglass, on the shooting slump.

"We're trying to go back to the basics now, just hitting the open guy when he's open. We've pretty much restarted. Getting the fundamentals down again, that's what we're working on." Zack Novak

"There were times last year, in the middle of the year, where we didn't look very good either. The last three games, we didn't really look like us, but chemsitry-wise, I think this team could be really good." Zack Novak

"I was trying to be more aggressive, but at the same time I was trying to look for my teammates." Manny Harris, on coming out big after a weak first half.

"It's going to get better. It's still kinda sore, but I can play on it." Manny Harris on his hamstring.

"We'll work it out. It's just how the game's going right now. The good part is we were able to get the win." Manny Harris, on being out of sync with Deshawn Sims.

Up Next

The Wolverines travel to Utah on Wednesday. The game can be seen at 9:00 Eastern on CBS College Sports.



December 5th, 2009 at 8:25 PM ^

I have to believe that they'll start hitting their shots. At that point, they can still beat anyone. Harris and Sims aren't going to regress from last year over the long-run. Depth will become less of a problem as Vogrich and Morris continue to get used to playing at this level.

/tells himself this so he can sleep at night

Zone Left

December 5th, 2009 at 11:47 PM ^

When I see a title on my Google Reader called "Avalanche Control" on mgoblog, I get scared that something bad happened with the football program on the level of Forcier transferring.

Moving on, I finally saw a game with a player better than Graham this year. Suh is just flat unfair. Wow.

Hoken's Heroes

December 6th, 2009 at 12:00 AM ^

Manny nursing a bad hammy could spell big trouble for this team if he goes out. Simms has been inconsistent and the others couldn't hit the ocean if they tried (ok ok..a bit hyperbole there). But, this team is fashioned by relying on the 3 point shot. If none of the shooters are hitting then it's going to be a long cold winter for many UM bball fans. It was bad enough when the wheels came off the football team but now the basket ball team has the lug nuts loose. The team has to wake up and start playing as a team. Someone put liquid heat on their jock straps!


December 6th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

with liquid heat in the ol' jock strap. Too distracting, is all.

The offense, with its perimeter orientation, is simply high-variance. If a couple of guys are on, you can beat anyone. If not... you look like a JV team, as then the defense can jam the middle, help on drives, and snag rebounds.


December 6th, 2009 at 12:41 AM ^

This team is going to hit these kinds of stretches where they just don't make shots. I really wish we could see more of a kid like Vogrich, as he looked like he can be hot at any time, but he doesn't have the rest of his game up to par. I'm not too worried, I'll become worried if they continue this into the beginning of Big Ten play.


December 6th, 2009 at 1:55 AM ^

Has anyone watched a game like this one on bigtennetwork.com?
If you have...is it worthwhile (i.e. not choppy)? Is it worth paying $3 to watch a fairly crappy game on a computer screen?


December 6th, 2009 at 10:33 AM ^

They will start hitting their shots. Honestly, several of us could hit some of those shots better than they are so I have a feeling that Stu, Novak, and Manny (and vogrich and sims and gibson and.....) will start hittin' them. I'm thinking they are a little better at this basketball game than us.


December 6th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

I would prefer to see Manny sit and heal his hammy so that it isn't as much of a problem when the meat of the schedule starts in January.

It would be mixed results for UM if Manny tries to play at 80 percent all year. He would still help the team, but probably not enough to be much better than last year. The good part is that he would probably have to come back next year to improve his draft position.

I would rather just see him sit until it is better.


December 7th, 2009 at 1:08 AM ^

If the knee is the issue, than I think we can see the affects that is having already. In my opinion, he looks like a different player than from the last two years. Two problems point to his changed results on the court:
1. Basically zero effort on defense:
-Corey Raji's 17 points on him in the first half, and then 8 in the second frame when they switched to several others guarding him. If you watch the replay of the first half of the BC game, you will see that almost all of Raji's points were off open layups, almost all of which were a result of Manny's laziness.
-The Pine-Bluff game exhibited countless players blowing by him, leading to more of those easy layup things, as well as several lazy missed rebounds.
-The examples are plenty. He should be a leader on defense but instead, I think, looks like one of the players needing the most improvement.

2. Weak offensive performances:
-I know this controversial, but has anybody else seen a dropoff in his output in the last couple games (that is, once the real season started, in Orlando)?
-He hasn't been driving to the basket nearly as much as last year.
-Even though it should haven't been i.e. they are terrible, Pine-Bluff was a good example of this. In the first half he was barely involved in any plays on offense. Basically hanging around the three point line, looking for the ball when he wasn't open.
-The disastrous ramifications of his lack of effort in the Beilein offense are obvious.
-What appears to be worse is that (and this is difficult to quantify, but I think it has a certain legitimacy) in the first half he looked to be just trying to get his twenty or so points to secure a top draft spot, while caring little about winning. Some flashy plays here and there, but those seem to be for the highlight reels, surely not the win columns.

To qualify, I love Manny as much as, if not more than, the next guy. I think he is the most fun player to watch in college basketball and I can't wait to watch that silky smooth style excel in the NBA. I merely think he looks less motivated this year. So does everyone else on the team, but Manny especially. Getting back to the point of this response, if his knee is the reason, then I am overjoyed because of its tangible recovery. If it's more of a show-me-the-money apathy, then I think it's going a very long season.


December 6th, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

Has anyone (Beilein, an assistant, Manny himself) stated that the hammy is still bothering him? To me he looks fine and has pretty dominant. With Turner going down, he seems to be a decent bet at winning POY in the B10. If this is Manny at 80% I would be really surprised.


December 6th, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

Big game Wednesday night. A lot of angst on the slow start and possible tourney bubble position it may put us in, can be alleviated with a win in Salt Lake.

But, I have to admit, the way they've looked does not have me feeling all that confident about it.